YSU grad moves kids with his NYC music

By Elise Franco




Violinist Jannina Barefield and pianist and director Thomas Osuga, both of the Aurista Chamber Music of New York, get ready to perform for students at St. Joseph’s and Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Austintown. They played various pieces from Spanish, black American, Hungarian and Jewish cultures Thursday.


From left, Colin Roberts, Nathan Leskovac, Chloe Durda and Patrick Faloon watch and listen to the performance by Osuga amd Barefield. Osuga is a graduate of Youngstown State University’s Dana School of Music.


What: The 26th annual Dana New Music Festival wraps up Sunday.

Who: The Aurista Chamber Ensemble of New York, directed by Dana School of Music graduate Thomas Osuga, is the guest group at the event that has played four concerts throughout the Youngstown area since Wednesday.

Concert: The ensemble performs at 1 p.m. Sunday at Sts. Peter & Paul Church, Covington Street, to close the music festival. A closing reception at 11:30 a.m. will precede the recital.

Previous concerts: The ensemble performed Wednesday at the Butler Institute of American Art and the Ford Family Recital Hall to kick off the week. Two more concerts followed Thursday at St. Joseph’s and Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Austintown and the Jewish Community Center in Youngstown.

Source: The Vindicator

Thomas Osuga, director of the Aurista Ensemble of New York, wanted to move the students at St. Joseph’s and Immaculate Heart of Mary School with music.

Osuga, a pianist and former student of Youngstown State University’s Dana School of Music, and Aurista violinist Jannina Barefield performed several classical pieces Thursday during a short concert for students at the Catholic school here.

The concert, sponsored by the 26th annual Dana New Music Festival, featured music inspired by Spanish, Jewish, Hungarian and black American culture.

“We want to take the kids on an exploratory adventure,” Osuga said. “The music can help them connect to a wider world.”

As they played a Spanish-inspired piece, by Enrique Granados and Fritz Kreisler, students moved their heads and swayed to the music. Afterward, Osuga asked the audience to weigh-in on the song.

“It made me feel like I was dancing,” fourth-grader Colgan Knox said. Another student said the music made her picture a ballet.

Osuga said these responses were just what he hoped for from the group.

“This music can help them see where they fit into the world,” he said. “They learn about their own feelings through the music.”

Principal John Rozzo said it’s important to his students’ education to expose them to various cultures within arts and music.

“They have to be exposed to different kinds of opportunities to expand on music and the arts,” he said. “We have kids who play the piano very well, so this gives them the opportunity to see the instrument in action.”

Osuga and Barefield also performed pieces by Bela Bartok, William Grant Still and Robert Rollin, who has been a professor for 32 years at the Dana School of Music.

“The younger the children, the more they respond to the music. They love it,” Osuga said.

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